Harking back to the downtown DIY spirit of New York legend, it was a student fashion occupation of 13th Street. On the first hot day of the year between a Dominican parade happening on the Fifth Avenue side, its participants dancing in feathers and sun kissed sparkle, and the droves of shoppers with DIY plans of assembling garden furniture heading to Bed Bath & Beyond on the Sixth Avenue side, Parsons School of Design held its own block party.
In the school’s first ever street fashion show, one look from each BFA student’s collection, over 250 looks in total, worn by models of a diversity and attitude rarely seen on traditional catwalks, stomped up the length of one side of the street and down the other to the cheers of family, friends and the curious who stumbled upon it by accident. No front row, just first come, best view. Music was provided not by a high-profile DJ but a quartet of percussionists drumming on upturned plastic paint buckets. The sound was tribal, making for an interesting reflection on fashion and a stripping back of the fuss of and expense of today’s big-budget shows presented in ever more elaborate locations built to rival movie sets. The lack of curation suggested a democratic alternative to fashion education’s elitist graduate shows which leave so many students left out and disappointed, and an alternative to the industry’s rather tired runway format, which so many question the value of each season, but few offer response.
The new street style
Interestingly the power of exquisite tailoring is only enhanced by the unforgiving sun, the labor-intensive textile innovation in coats and on diaphanous dresses easier to appreciate, and the more outrageously high fashion, built on crinoline foundations, topped with veiled heads just puts one in the spirit of summer, a time when everyone feels more color-ready and adventurous.
The show launched the weekend-long end-of-academic year Parsons Festival during which the school opens up as an exhibition space where all the work of the graduating designers is available for viewing.
Fashion editor Jackie Mallon is also an educator and author of Silk for the Feed Dogs, a novel set in the international fashion industry.